Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash


Well, this was my first time cooking with barley and it turned out great!  The oven does most of the work so it was really easy too.  I can’t wait to make this again.  It is a pretty healthy meal as well since barley is fiber rich and the spinach and squash are vitamin and nutrient rich.

Oh by the way, I’m crossing this off my 30×30 list for risotto.  It is really not a true risotto, but that list has barely been touched so I’ll take what I can get.  I have a feeling that list is going to be extended to a 30 while I’m 30 list.  Oops.

Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

Source:  Dec 2011 issue of Real Simple magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1″ pieces (about 3 cups) – next time I may use a large sweet potato

1 onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

5 oz baby spinach – I know I used less that this, I didn’t measure, just used all I had in an open package

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the squash, onion, and s&p.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 4-6 minutes.

Add the barley to the vegetables and cook for another minute.  Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.  Bake until barley is tender, 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, stir in spinach and Parmesan.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Soup

Every year I make a ton of soup recipes throughout the fall and winter.  This cauliflower soup was one of the first that I made this year.

As usual I was pretty much winging it, but it is loosely based off the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  I realized I didn’t have any milk in the house about half way through so I kind of panicked, but it all worked out in the end and I made it healthy in the process. Woohoo! {I mean, there’s still butter in it, but a lot less than the original.}

Go to the link below if you want to see PW’s original version.  She leaves hers chunky, and adds milk and cream.  I did not add any milk or cream, and I pureed the soup with an immersion blender.

Cauliflower Soup

Source:  Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil

one medium white or yellow onion, finely diced

2-3 carrots, finely diced

2-3 celery stalks, finely diced

1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped

2 T. dried parsley

salt and pepper

1 carton (32 oz) low-sodium chicken broth

2-3 T. butter

3 T flour

Sour cream for serving – optional

Directions:

Add the oil to a soup pot that’s over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook for a few minutes, until they are tender and starting to brown.  Turn the heat to low and add the cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.  Let that cook for just a few minutes to allow the cauliflower to brown very slightly.

Pour in the chicken stock or broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer until cauliflower is completely tender.

*This is where I panicked.*  So, off to the side, I melted a few tablespoons of butter and then added flour to it.  I cooked that for a few minutes hoping to eliminate the raw flour taste.  Then I added it to the soup as a thickener.  {PW added whole milk and half and half to the roux to create a white sauce.}

Stir the soup as it simmers and thickens, taste and add s & p.  Total simmering time should be about 15-20 minutes, during that time I pureed it with an immersion blender but you could transfer it to a blender or food processor in batches if you would like.  Or like I said above, PW leaves hers chunky.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa

I mentioned a few posts back that I love quinoa and that I would be posting more recipes using quinoa soon.  Well, here you go!  It is safe to say that I am now obsessed with quinoa and am constantly looking for new recipes.  I love how nutritious it is!

What is also perfect (sort of) is that Tim is back on second shift so I can do whatever I want for weeknight dinners.  This means chick food galore!  I can eat vegetarian meals, have a bowl of cereal, just eat hummus and veggies, or any other random thing at all.  Tim would not go for this quinoa meal alone {if at all?}; he would probably at least need shrimp or salmon to go alongside.  But this was just fine for me.

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup water

1 cup canned pineapple juice

1 tsp low sodium soy sauce

3/4 cup cashews, toasted

2 tsp sesame oil

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 or 2 carrots, chopped small

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup frozen peas

1 can pineapple chunks {with juice reserved}

s & p – optional {I skipped adding salt because the cashews were salted}

Bring the water, tsp of soy sauce, and cup of reserved pineapple juice to a boil.  Add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a dry skillet.  Then remove and set aside.  Add the sesame oil to the skillet, add the carrots, bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Cook until crisp-tender.  Add the peas, then the pineapple chunks and heat through.  Then add the cashews and cooked quinoa.  Stir to combine.  Taste and add more soy sauce and/or salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

I added sirracha to my serving and it was fantastic.

Other possible add-ins:

garbanzo beans

black beans

broccoli

edamame

fresh herbs

Honey Glazed Carrots

I needed a vegetable side dish to serve up with the chicken casserole I was making and ended up throwing this together on a whim.  We thought it was great!  I’ll definitely want to remember this dish in the summer time when we have an excess of home-grown carrots.

Honey Glazed Carrots

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices

1 Tbsp butter

salt and pepper

dash of garlic powder

dash of ground ginger

2 heaping Tbsp honey

Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet, add the carrot slices.  Stir fry a few minutes over medium heat, then cover with a lid for 10-15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Add the seasonings and honey, and stir to coat.  Serve immediately, and be sure to spoon the glaze over the top.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Broccoli is our favorite vegetable so I always have some on hand.  Well to be truthful, its Tim’s favorite, my favorite is peas but broccoli is my second favorite soooooo anyway…where was I?

I saw this recipe in an issue of Real Simple and knew I had to make it!  It sounded so simple and I knew we would love the flavor. I think it is restaurant quality!  Give it a try!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

source: Real Simple Feb 2011

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper – optional

2 cups broth {chicken or vegetable}

2 cups water

1 large bunch of broccoli florets, chopped {about 7 cups}

1 large russet potato {about 8 oz}, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces

salt and pepper

1/2 cup cheddar cheese {they recommend white cheddar, but I didn’t have any}

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat.  Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft.  4-6 minutes.

Add the broccoli, potato, broth, and water.  Heat to a boil and then reduce to simmer, add the salt and pepper, cover and cook until the veggies are very tender.  20 minutes.

Use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Top with additional cheese, sour cream, sliced green onion, croutons, or crackers for serving.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I was nursing a sore throat several days ago and I thought a nice warm bowl of noodles sounded like the perfect medicine for lunch one day.  This recipe did not disappoint.  I’ve read similar recipes to this one and they are served cold, so I’m sure this recipe would be great either way.  The veggies that you choose to use are totally interchangeable.  I used a bag of frozen “spring mix” stir fry veggies, but just bell peppers would be fine.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

adapted from Betty Crocker Bridal Edition Cookbook, page 375

Ingredients:

8 ounces of egg, rice, or spaghetti noodles

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 Tbsp oil for stir frying

stir fry veggies of your choice – fresh or frozen

Optional Toppings:

peanuts

sliced green onions

chopped cilantro

Directions:

Cook noodles in boiling water as directed.

Stir the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper together with a whisk, gradually add the broth.  {This kinda takes forever because the peanut butter is so thick, but keep at it.}

Stir fry the veggies until crisp tender in a little oil in a large saute pan.  Add the cooked and drained pasta and the peanut butter sauce to the pan.  Toss to combine and coat.

Place in serving bowls and add topping if you choose.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

I wanted to test out this recipe for whiskey glazed carrots as a potential side dish for this year’s Thanksgiving meal.  I will most likely host Thanksgiving for my side of the family again (6 people total), so I’m already starting to plan.  🙂

I thought the carrots tasted great, but I accidentally used too much liquid and it never quite thickened up as much as I wanted. I misread the recipe and used 3/4 cup whiskey.  Oops!

Overall they were really tasty and I think that I will in fact serve them for Thanksgiving.  However, these were not good leftover.  Blech!

DSC01528

Pioneer Woman’s Whiskey-Glazed Carrots

serves 6

2 – 3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick circles
1 stick butter {I used about 6 tablespoons}
1/2 cup Jack Daniels whiskey
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar {I used dark brown sugar}
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Melt 1 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in two batches, cooking for 60 to 90 seconds each batch.  Remove from skillet.
Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate 30 seconds.
Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining butter.
When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over the top.
Stir together, then add carrots to skillet.
Cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 more minutes.
Pour onto a platter and serve immediately.  Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

Previous Older Entries